THE BLOG
12/31/2012 02:40 pm ET Updated Feb 27, 2013

Have A Sweet New Year With Less Sugar

Flickr: rockindave1

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"Sugar is the tobacco of the 21st Century." - Mark Bittman, Food Matters

This quote got me worrying about how much hidden sugar I might be consuming.

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I don't sweeten coffee, tea or cereal, rarely drink soda, and avoid foods with "added sugar" labels.

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Sugar is an unexpected ingredient in many foods. It's used to boost flavors, help bread rise, and balance acidity in foods containing vinegar.

To know the sugar content--read labels.

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Ingredients are listed in descending order by the amount in the product. If sugar is among the first few ingredients then you know the product is high in sugar. The tricky part is that sugar has many different names depending on where it comes from and how it's made. An ingredient that ends in "ose" is a sugar. It is the chemical name for many types of sugar including fructose, glucose, maltose and dextrose.

After I heard Bittman speak, I looked closer at a health bar I carry while traveling.

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Thinking the bar was healthy, I was shocked to find the following ingredients listed: corn syrup, sugar, high maltose corn syrup, sugar cane fiber and fructose.

According to the Mayo Clinic, "There's no nutritional advantage for honey, brown sugar, fruit juice concentrate or other types of sugar over white sugar."

Consuming Excessive amounts of sugar leads to serious health problems including tooth decay and obesity. Sugar gives us empty calories and may result in skimping on more nutritious food.
The American Heart Association recommends about 6 teaspoons of sugar a day for women and 9 for men. Most Americans consume more than 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day.

One 12-ounce can of regular soda has about 8 teaspoons of sugar. That's the daily limit before eating any other food that has sugar such as a fruit flavored yogurt, ketchup or a cookie. In "The World Is Fat", author Barry Popkin writes, "We are what we drink," and many people drink between 450-500 calories a day.

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Try these two strategies to cut down on liquid calories:

1. If you're a soda drinker, replace a glass of soda with a glass of water.

2. If you like fruit juice, drink 100% fruit juice and not a juice drink that has added sugar. Even better, eat the fruit instead of the juice. Fruit juice concentrates the sugars and strips away the appetite-satiating fiber and bulk of the fruit.

In his book, entitled The World is Fat, Barry Popkin asks the question, "Did you know that it takes almost a pound of oranges to make an 8 ounce glass of juice?"

Another way to cut sugar consumption: Choose breakfast cereals carefully. If you or your children are used to sugary or frosted cereals look at Bill's creations in our book, "Funny Food" for ways to make unsweetened cereals fun and delicious.

Here's to a sweeter 2013 with less sugar.

Visit us our website at www.funnyfoodart.com to learn more.

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